Apr 11, 2009 12:37pm
Re: Special Ops (non-Dead)
Without a free, fully-functional, unfettered, and very-well informed press, we will NOT have a functioning Democracy - or, perhaps NO Democracy at all. Only a very-well informed public citizenry can maintain a real Democracy. The job of The News Media is to keep us very-well informed. The way you do that is by dutifully reporting the Facts and the Truth. Only a very-well informed voting public will cast their votes most effectively at the ballot box.
Without a free, unfettered, and very-well informed press, we will have lies, cheating, stealing, killing, spying, torture, maiming, illegal wars, war crimes, occupations, many trillions of dollars of debt, bankruptcy, and a failed system - or perhaps, something much worse - such as a broken-down, corporate, neo-fascist state. Isn't that what's going on around here now?
Thanks for speaking up BD and jerk-water Dan (Sky Dawg). Kochman, have you ever read Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States
? btw, Zinn was a second Lieutenant and bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew combat missions in Europe 1943-45. Kochman, you mentioned MS-NBC as being liberal. Don't you realize that trash is owned and operated by General Electric? Liberal??? Can't we learn anything from our past? This is "old news."
How about Bill Moyers interview w/ Andrew Bacevich on Aug 15, 2008
? "The limits of American power have never been more vividly on display. That's the subject of my conversation this week with Andrew J. Bacevich. Here is a public thinker who has been able to find an audience across the political spectrum, from THE NATION or THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE magazines, lecturing to college classes or testifying before Congress.
Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who's in power, which may be why those of both the left and right listen to him.
Perhaps it's also because when he challenges American myths and illusions, he does so from a patriotism forged in the fire of experience as a soldier in Vietnam.
After 23 years in the Army, the West Point graduate retired as a colonel and has been teaching international relations and history at Boston University. Bacevich has published several acclaimed books, including this one, THE NEW AMERICAN MILITARISM. His latest, published this week, is THE LIMITS OF POWER: THE END OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM."ANDREW BACEVICH:
Our foreign policy is not something simply concocted by people in Washington D.C. and imposed on us. Our foreign policy is something that is concocted in Washington D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we want, we the people want. And what we want, by and large - I mean, one could point to many individual exceptions - but, what we want, by and large is, we want this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods.
We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they may happen to be, in order to be able to drive wherever we want to be able to drive. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the book's balanced at the end of the month, or the end of the fiscal year. And therefore, we want this unending line of credit. BILL MOYERS:
You intrigued me when you wrote that "The fundamental problem facing the country will remain stubbornly in place no matter who is elected in November." What's the fundamental problem you say is not going away no matter whether it's McCain or Obama? ANDREW BACEVICH:
What neither of these candidates will be able to, I think, accomplish is to persuade us to look ourselves in the mirror, to see the direction in which we are headed. And from my point of view, it's a direction towards ever greater debt and dependency. BILL MOYERS:
And you write that "What will not go away, is a yawning disparity between what Americans expect, and what they're willing or able to pay." Explore that a little bit. ANDREW BACEVICH:
Well, I think one of the ways we avoid confronting our refusal to balance the books is to rely increasingly on the projection of American military power around the world to try to maintain this dysfunctional system, or set of arrangements that have evolved over the last 30 or 40 years.
But, it's not the American people who are deploying around the world. It is a very specific subset of our people, this professional army. We like to call it an all-volunteer force- BILL MOYERS:
Right. ANDREW BACEVICH:
-but the truth is, it's a professional army, and when we think about where we send that army, it's really an imperial army. I mean, if as Americans, we could simply step back a little bit, and contemplate the significance of the fact that Americans today are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ask ourselves, how did it come to be that organizing places like Iraq and Afghanistan should have come to seem to be critical to the well-being of the United States of America.
There was a time, seventy, eighty, a hundred years ago, that we Americans sat here in the western hemisphere, and puzzled over why British imperialists went to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. We viewed that sort of imperial adventurism with disdain. But, it's really become part of what we do. Unless a President could ask fundamental questions about our posture in the world, it becomes impossible then, for any American President to engage the American people in some sort of a conversation about how and whether or not to change the way we live. BILL MOYERS:
How is Iraq a clear manifestation, as you say, of this, "yawning disparity between what Americans expect, and what they're willing to pay?" ANDREW BACEVICH:
Let's think about World War Two. A war that President Roosevelt told us was essential to U.S. national security, and was. And President Roosevelt said at the time, because this is an important enterprise, you, the American people, will be called upon to make sacrifices. And indeed, the people of the United States went off to fight that war in large numbers. It was a national effort. None of that's been true with regard to Iraq. I mean, one of the most striking things about the way the Bush Administration has managed the Global War on Terror, which President Bush has compared to World War Two. BILL MOYERS:
Right. ANDREW BACEVICH:
One of the most striking things about it is that there was no effort made to mobilize the country, there was actually no effort even made to expand the size of the armed forces, as a matter of fact. The President said just two weeks or so after 9/11, "Go to Disney World. Go shopping." Well, there's something out of whack here, if indeed the Global War on Terror, and Iraq as a subset of the Global War on Terror is said to be so critically important, on the one hand. And on the other hand, when the country basically goes about its business, as if, really, there were no War on Terror, and no war in Iraq ongoing at all. BILL MOYERS:
"So it is," you write, "seven years into its confrontation with radical Islam, the United States finds itself with too much war for too few warriors and with no prospect of producing the additional soldiers needed to close the gap." When I hear all this talk about increasing the troops in Afghanistan from two to three battalions, maybe even more, I keep asking myself, where are we going to get those troops? ANDREW BACEVICH:
Well, and of course the answer is, they have to come from Iraq. I mean, as we speak, the security conditions in Iraq have improved a little bit, and in a sense, it's just in time, because what the Pentagon wants to do is to draw down its presence in Iraq to some degree, not in order to give those troops a breather, but in order to redeploy them after a period of retraining to Afghanistan, because Afghanistan is going so poorly. So, we're having a very difficult time managing two wars which, in the 20th century context, they're actually relatively small. BILL MOYERS:
You say, "U.S. troops in battle dress and body armor, whom Americans profess to admire and support, pay the price for the nation's refusal to confront our domestic dysfunction." What are we not confronting? ANDREW BACEVICH:
The most obvious, the blindingly obviously question, is energy. It's oil. I think historians a hundred years from now will puzzle over how it could be that the United States of America, the most powerful nation in the world, as far back as the early 1970s, came to recognize that dependence on foreign oil was a problem, posed a threat, comprised our freedom of action.
How every President from Richard Nixon down to the present one, President Bush, declared, "We're gonna fix this problem." None of them did. And the reason we are in Iraq today is because the Persian Gulf is at the center of the world's oil reserves. I don't mean that we invaded Iraq on behalf of big oil, but the Persian Gulf region would have zero strategic significance, were it not for the fact that that's where the oil is.
Back in 1980, I think, President Carter, in many respects when he declared the Carter Doctrine, and said that henceforth, the Persian Gulf had enormous strategic significance to the United States and the United States is not going to permit any other country to control that region of the world.
And that set in motion a set of actions that has produced the militarization of U.S. policy, ever deeper U.S. military involvement in the region, and in essence, has postponed that day of reckoning when we need to understand the imperative of having an energy policy, and trying to restore some semblance of energy independence. BILL MOYERS:
And this is connected, as you say in the book, in your first chapters, of what you call "the crisis of profligacy." ANDREW BACEVICH:
Well, we don't live within our means. I mean, the nation doesn't, and increasingly, individual Americans don't. Our saving - the individual savings rate in this country is below zero. The personal debt, national debt, however you want to measure it, as individuals and as a government, and as a nation we assume an endless line of credit.
As individuals, the line of credit is not endless, that's one of the reasons why we're having this current problem with the housing crisis, and so on. And my view would be that the nation's assumption, that its line of credit is endless, is also going to be shown to be false. And when that day occurs it's going to be a black day, indeed. BILL MOYERS:
You call us an "empire of consumption." ANDREW BACEVICH:
I didn't create that phrase. It's a phrase drawn from a book by a wonderful historian at Harvard University, Charles Maier, and the point he makes in his very important book is that, if we think of the United States at the apex of American power, which I would say would be the immediate post World War Two period, through the Eisenhower years, into the Kennedy years. We made what the world wanted. They wanted our cars. We exported our television sets, our refrigerators - we were the world's manufacturing base. He called it an "empire of production." BILL MOYERS:
Right. ANDREW BACEVICH:
Sometime around the 1960s there was a tipping point, when the "empire of production" began to become the "empire of consumption." When the cars started to be produced elsewhere, and the television sets, and the socks, and everything else. And what we ended up with was the American people becoming consumers rather than producers. BILL MOYERS:
And you say this has produced a condition of profound dependency, to the extent, and I'm quoting you, "Americans are no longer masters of their own fate." ANDREW BACEVICH:
Well, they're not. I mean, the current debt to the Chinese government grows day by day. Why? Well, because of the negative trade balance. Our negative trade balance with the world is something in the order of $800 billion per year. That's $800 billion of stuff that we buy, so that we can consume, that is $800 billion greater than the amount of stuff that we sell to them. That's a big number. I mean, it's a big number even relative to the size of our economy. BILL MOYERS:
And you use this metaphor that is intriguing. American policy makers, quote, "have been engaged in a de facto Ponzi scheme, intended to extend indefinitely, the American line of credit." What's going on that resembles a Ponzi scheme? ANDREW BACEVICH:
This continuing tendency to borrow and to assume that the bills are never going to come due. I testified before a House committee six weeks ago now, on the future of U.S grand strategy. I was struck by the questions coming from members that showed an awareness, a sensitivity, and a deep concern, about some of the issues that I tried to raise in the book.
"How are we gonna pay the bills? How are we gonna pay for the commitment of entitlements that is going to increase year by year for the next couple of decades, especially as baby boomers retire?" Nobody has answers to those questions. So, I was pleased that these members of Congress understood the problem. I was absolutely taken aback when they said, "Professor, what can we do about this?" And their candid admission that they didn't have any answers, that they were perplexed, that this problem of learning to live within our means seemed to have no politically plausible solution.
Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet and dramatist.
Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequal alike.
Plato (BC 427-BC 347) Greek philosopher.
Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish writer.
I am a democrat only on principle, not by instinct, nobody is that. Doubtless some people say they are, but this world is grievously given to lying.
Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.
Democracy is not so much a form of government as a set of principles.
Woodrow T. Wilson (1856-1924) Twenty-eighth President of the USA.
Democracy arose from men's thinking that if they are equal in any respect, they are equal absolutely.
Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC) Greek philosopher.
This post was modified by dead-head_Monte on 2009-04-11 19:37:54